Pulp bass player Steve Mackey has died at the age of 56, the band has announced, paying tribute to a “beloved friend” who “made things happen”.
The Sheffield band, who rose to prominence with their fourth and fifth albums His ‘N’ Hers and Different Class in the 1990s, said the musician died on Thursday. On Mackey’s own Instagram page, his wife Katie posted her own tribute and said he had been in hospital for three months.
Sharing a photograph on Instagram taken on tour during 2012, the band said: “Our beloved friend & bass player Steve Mackey passed away this morning. Our thoughts are with his family & loved ones.
“This photo of Steve dates from when Pulp were on tour in South America in 2012. We had a day off & Steve suggested we go climbing in the Andes. So we did.”
Describing the trek as “a completely magical experience”, the tribute continued: “Far more magical than staring at the hotel room wall all day (which is probably what we’d have done otherwise).
“Steve made things happen. In his life & in the band… we’d very much like to think that he’s back in those mountains now, on the next stage of his adventure.
“Safe travels, Steve. We hope to catch up with you one day.”
Mercury Prize and an Ivor Novello award for Different Class and Common People
Mackey joined Pulp, fronted by Jarvis Cocker, in the late 1980s, in time for their third album, Separations. In 1994, the band released its fourth album, His ‘N’ Hers, which was nominated for the Mercury Prize later that year.
Two years later, fifth album Different Class – featuring hits including Common People, Something Changes, Disco 2000, Mis-Shapes and Sorted For E’s & Wizz – went on to win the prestigious award.
Common People also earned the band an Ivor Novello award in 1996, and in 2017 they were awarded by the Ivors Academy for their outstanding song collection.
In 1995, the group became a late replacement for The Stone Roses to headline that year’s Glastonbury Festival and went on to play one of the most memorable sets in the event’s history. In 2011, following a hiatus, their comeback “secret” set drew one of the biggest crowds ever to the festival’s Park Stage.
Read more: Pulp announce gigs for 2023 more than 10 years since last live shows
In 2022, after another long break, Cocker announced the band would be playing live shows in 2023, with gigs in London and Sheffield, and sets at festivals including Isle Of Wight, planned for the summer.
At the time, Mackey announced that while the band was “a very important part of my creative life… and I’m exceptionally proud of the body of work we’ve created together”, he would not be joining them for the reunion shows.
He said instead he would be working on his other projects involving music, filmmaking and photography. “Wishing Candy, Nick, Mark and Jarvis the very best with forthcoming performances in the UK and also an enormous thanks to Pulp’s amazing fanbase, many of whom have sent me lovely messages,” he said in a statement.
As well as his work with Pulp, Mackey was also a producer who worked with acts including MIA, Arcade Fire and Florence And The Machine.
In her tribute, his wife Katie said: “After three months in hospital, fighting with all his strength and determination, we are shocked and devastated to have said goodbye to my brilliant, beautiful husband, Steve Mackey.
“Steve died today, a loss which has left myself, his son Marley, parents Kath and Paul, sister Michelle and many friends all heartbroken. Steve was the most talented man I knew, an exceptional musician, producer, photographer and filmmaker.
“As in life, he was adored by everyone whose paths he crossed in the multiple creative disciplines he conquered. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all the NHS staff who worked tirelessly for Steve. He will be missed beyond words.”
Bandmate Nick Banks also paid tribute, describing Mackey as a “brilliantly talented individual” who “fought so valiantly to stay with us”.